KISS & Not From Jerusalem Artichokes

“Keep it simple, stupid” is an oft heard maxim coined by Kelly Johnson, famed systems engineer and aeronautical innovator. A mise en place freak. The KISS principle often reigns over the kitchen. So many toothsome cuisines — from Italian to South American to Malaysian to French to South Asian to Chinese to Russian to Singaporese to Southeast Asian to Latin American to Japanese to African, and so on — pursue the simplest solutions and tread the simplest paths with both components and techniques. By now, we know a simple plate is far from boring or dull. Food that is nothing more and nothing less than simplicity mastered with hints of restraint.

Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus), aka sunroots or sunchokes, are actually a sunflower perennial native to North America. Fleshy rhizomes (underground stems) bear small tubers which are elongated and uneven, vaguely resembling ginger root. They vary in color from pale brown to white, red or purple. The nomenclature’s origin is both unknown and disputed. Some consider the name to be a corruption of the Italian Griasole Articiocco, meaning sunflower artichoke. I was graced with some of these divine gnarly knots by a kind farmer at the city market, and they are well worth the short trip from oven to table.

Simple enough. So, when served or later, don’t forget to KISS the cook.

The recipe?

ROASTED JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES

1 lbs+ Jerusalem artichokes, cleaned and halved
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F

In a large glass bowl, drizzle halved artichokes with olive oil, working them gently with your fingers (the world’s greatest kitchen tool). Spread oiled artichokes on a sheet pan lined with foil. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Roast until fork tender, about 40-45 minutes. Of course, cooking time will vary depending on your oven and artichoke size.

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